Right to Property

While right to property is no longer a fundamental right [The Constitution (Forty Fourth Amendment) Act, 1978], right against deprivation of property, unless in accordance with procedure established by law, continues to be a constitutional right under Article 300-A. Nobody can be deprived of liberty or property without due process or authorization of law. The recognition of this dates back to 1700s to King’s Bench in Entick v. Carrington, [1765] EWHC (KB) 198 and Wazir Chand v. State of Himachal Pradesh, 1955 (1) SCR 408. Court has repeatedly held, rather than enjoying a wider bandwidth of lenience, State often has a higher responsibility in demonstrating it has acted within confines of legality.

State cannot shield itself behind ground of delay and laches in present situation and evade its legal responsibility towards those from whom private property has been expropriated. We find it to be unacceptable and warranting intervention on grounds of equity and fairness. State has, in a clandestine and arbitrary manner, actively tried to limit disbursal of compensation as required by law, only to those for which it was specifically prodded by Courts rather than to all those who are entitled. We find, approach taken by Vidya Devi v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (2020) 2 SCC 569 is squarely applicable to nearly identical facts before us in present case.

Hon’ble Justice S. Ravindra Bhat, Sukh Dutt Ratra v. State of Himachal Pradesh, [Special Leave Petition (Civil) Diary No. 13202 of 2020].